Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kathrine Howard, Owner of Howard Soap Co., located in Mcintosh, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I've been making skincare and bath products for 15 years and candles for nearly 10. Our customers range widely from men and women ages 16-70.
Tell us about yourself
I started making bar soaps as a stay-at-home mom with the intention of only providing good high-quality non-toxic products for my family. I've always known the power of nature and that sticking to simple ingredients is always best. I was concerned about the chemicals in basic skin care products and wanted the best for my kids. From there, I started giving out the bar soaps as gifts and quickly after had many requests for more. As the years passed, my lineup grew, and my life changed drastically. I was faced with the decision to either completely quit making my products due to time constraints or opt for a 9-5 job to support myself and my five kids. I took the risk and went all in. In 2019, after moving back to my tiny hometown with my kids, I opened up a brick and mortar. It took me over a month to finally sign the lease and take the plunge, and I'm so glad I did. Not only was it a success, and I was able to support my family financially, but I also was part of a group of women that worked together to revitalize the main street in our tiny town into a quaint shopping district. My main motivation to keep going is that even though the hours are long and the days never end, I have the freedom to dictate my time and continue to be a 'somewhat' stay-at-home mom to my kids. I'm able to attend 90% of the softball, baseball, basketball, football, volleyball madness, and all that goes with it. It also joys me to no end to hear how happy my customers are with my long-tested and perfected products. I take great pains to make sure all the products I make are good quality and have a specific targeted use. My favorite part about running my business is, hands down, the creation and perfection of my goods; second to that is seeing happy customers in my store.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Aside from simply making a product that brings customers back for more, I would have to say that in my journey, I've been able to provide a good life for my kids, and I was even able to scale up and build a bigger studio for myself, then purchase the storefront building I had been renting. Simply keeping up with the evolution of the business and raising my kids through it all has been epic for me.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Long unpaid hours and financial uncertainty. You really do have to risk it all and have radical faith that when things aren't looking up, they will always get better. If, for some reason, they don't get better, you have to be ok with picking yourself up and starting over.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The first thing I would tell them to do is to spend a significant amount of time looking inward and getting quiet to tune in and really find out what their motivations are. Having a true north is essential; some might think money is a good motive, but in my experience, it is only a side-effect of what being a business owner is all about. I would also say that you don't have to be very business savvy, I'm not, and I've made it this far. If you stay true to your goals and line out your priorities and motivations, you will find success. Last but not least, you really have to be like water. You need to find a way to be able to go around obstacles or simply take a new path when something is in your way.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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